A Canadian fishkeeper received an unwelcome visit from local law enforcement agencies after authorities became suspicious at his high electricity consumption.
In legislation that seems strange to us here in the UK, but the Surrey Municipality, British Columbia is able to obtain lists from local electricity providers of anyone using more than three times the average daily amount of power.
Fish breeder Mike Baynes received a notice stuck to his front door saying that if he didn't allow a search of his property for drug growing facilities within 48 hours, then a warrant would be obtained to do so.
With nothing to hide Mr. Baynes gave his permission, and this resulted in a visit from a team of electrical and fire inspectors with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police waiting outside in case it turned out he was actually growing marijuana rather than mollies!
However once the innocent, fish related nature of Mr. Baynes electrical usage was uncovered they didn't just thank him for his time, apologise and leave as he expected. Instead they ordered him to hire an electrician to check the wiring on his 17 fish tanks, at a cost of $800.
The bill could have been as much as $3000 if he was not himself a retired electrician capable of carrying out much of the work himself.
Mr. Baynes is furious at what he sees as an invasion of his privacy and the heavy-handed way in which he was treated. The local government's actions seem even stranger when the statistics for these visits are studied.
In 2011 they found 82 marijuana growing operations, but in every case the teams arrived to empty houses thanks to the 48-hour notice given, meaning no one has faced criminal charges in relation to the drugs. During the same period 128 electrical repair notices were issued to law abiding residents like Mr. Baynes, including a cucumber grower and the owner of a hot-tub. Canadian Civil Liberties groups are calling for changes to the bylaws and laws that make the inspections possible.
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